I got a call last week, one that happens to beekeepers from time to time: an offer of thousands of stinging insects. “I caught a swarm yesterday,” Jeff said, “But I don’t have a place to keep it, and I don’t want to add more colonies to my apiary.”
“Sure,” I said, “I’ll gladly take your bees off your hand. ” From an economic standpoint, getting a swarm is like someone handing you a $100 bill. But it’s also nice because I am down a hive after a queen loss last month, and this would put me back at full strength.
The next day, Jeff drove over to my place with a makeshift beehive in the back of his truck. It was a wooden box with pieces of wood duct taped to it, and some string holding it together. I could hear the bees tapping away, trying to get out. “It was all I had lying around,” Jeff shrugged.
“That’s OK,” I said. “Let’s stop by Lance’s barn on the way to the farm. I have some extra hive parts in there. ” When we arrived, we hopped out of the truck and I opened the barn. Besides my mountain of my have parts, honey supers, queen excluders, syrup feeders, and other oddball beekeeper gear, I also saw a shiny new hive sitting on the other side of the barn. Oh yeah! I forgot! Emily V., a new beekeeper and a student of mine, was keeping her first pair of colonies on the same property. And, sadly, one of hers lost its queen a few weeks back and had to be combined with the other one.
This got me thinking. “You know, Jeff, how about we just give this swarm to Emily?” We both chuckled; beehives get stolen from time to time, but it’s pretty uncommon that someone sneaks into your yard and adds some bees to your collection. We set up her empty hive next to the full one, donned our bee suits, opened the temporary hive, and poured the swarm into its new home. Within minutes, they were settled in and began inspecting their surroundings. That’s Jeff after the install, and one of Lance’s cows looking on.
In other news, last friday was the second market of the season. Emily is “officially” running the stand this year, I’m focusing on the house stuff. But I still hang out and help her. I like seeing all the people and chatting with them. We are a little behind this year, with all the craziness of the house remodel, so we don’t have as full a veggie table as we’d like. But we’ve grossed more in sales each week so far than on the same week in other years, so I guess we’re doing better than it feels like.